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Women Against CrueltyProtection of Animals in Nineteenth-Century Britain$
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Diana Donald

Print publication date: 2020

Print ISBN-13: 9781526115423

Published to Manchester Scholarship Online: May 2020

DOI: 10.7765/9781526115430

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PRINTED FROM MANCHESTER SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.manchester.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Manchester University Press, 2022. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in MSO for personal use.date: 27 May 2022

Anti-vivisection: a feminist cause?

Anti-vivisection: a feminist cause?

(p.179) 5 Anti-vivisection: a feminist cause?
Women Against Cruelty

Diana Donald

Manchester University Press

In the 1870s, information about the growing practice of vivisection, especially in physiological research, prompted a public outcry, and led to crisis and division in the animal protection movement. Women in particular, led by Frances Power Cobbe, opposed vivisection, leading to a battle with scientific and medical opinion that took on a strongly gendered element. Cobbe as virtual leader of the Victoria Street Society, resorted to many oppositional strategies, including a notorious poster campaign, which was replicated in images published in the Illustrated Police News, and also prosecution of a scientist who infringed the terms of the 1876 Act regulating vivisection. Failing in these gambits, Cobbe went on to attack the practice at the philosophical level, raising ethical issues that were also pondered by the writer Vernon Lee (Violet Paget). Vivisection came to symbolise the materialism, misogyny and oppressive patriarchy of the age, and in this light it was anathematised by two early women doctors – Elizabeth Blackwell and Anna Kingsford – the latter a visionary who opposed vivisection as a spiritual blight on society.

Keywords:   vivisection, Frances Power Cobbe, Royal Commission on Vivisection, 1875, Victoria Street Society, Illustrated Police News, David Ferrier, Vernon Lee, Elizabeth Blackwell, Anna Kingsford

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